The Need To Explore

Yesterday I felt the need to explore. I called into work, coaxed one of my dogs into the truck, and set out in my 91′ S-10. I decided to drive west. Early in the morning I began on the Interstate and ended up on gravel back roads. One of my favorite parts of the journey was careening across the gravel and coming up to a ridge. As I approached I could see a small frozen lake below. I left the ridge and looked for a way to get closer to the shore. I circled around the lake but couldn’t find any public access, only a private drive. I wanted to go back and see if I could get closer from the way I came, but I couldn’t go back.

I have a rule when exploring: no going back only forward. Looping back around would have been an option if I could have found roads to take me back to the lake, but it was too late. I reached the private drive and was dumped onto a highway. No going back. The unexpected find, the beauty of the lake, and the struggle against the rule made the event memorable.

As I drove, various subjectively novel thoughts would drift in and out of my conscious mind. When I could, I would pull off into a safe area and write these thoughts down. This was a refreshing exercise. Usually I must struggle to remember my random thoughts, but this time I was able to purge them more efficiently.

I remember doing this same type of exploring as a kid. My brother and I would take to our bikes on a Saturday and ride in one direction. Not changing course allowed us to easily find our way back. Once we wanted to go home we would simply turn around. Other times we would sneak into train or lumber yards and furtively move about the landscape.

The need to explore is insatiable in humans. Always has been. Why? Maybe because if we as a species did not explore our surroundings we would never survive. This explains the physical need to explore, but what if you confine a person to one small environment? The person will explore the environment and when no data is left to absorb, the person turns inward; conceptualizing and going ever deeper into the mind. This person will probably develop some mental deficiency, but they continue to explored.

Confining someone to a single environment is not the norm, and serves as an example of how the quest for the new may be the qualia for many of our actions. How many times have you seen a child attempt to ride a dog? how many times have you tried to ride some defenseless animal? The impetus for attempting to saddle the family pet–could be the desire to experience the new. You want to be taken away by your trusty steed. Where? into the sunset, on to new things.

I’m getting a horse.

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